self/less by AVIVA
self/less is multidisciplinary artist and musician AVIVA’s debut novel. It is published by Pan Macmillan Australia.
In this YA dystopia, 17-year-old Teddy lives a privileged life in Metropolis where creativity is a crime. Following her desire for freedom and change, she turns her world upside down.
AVIVA writes about self/less:
At its core, SELF/LESS is a book about the power of creativity and self-expression; two themes that are central to the way I live my life as an artist. There is nothing more suffocating to me than the idea of not being creative. I need it like I need to eat, drink and sleep, so it’s a terrifying thought. The thought became the seed of the idea for this story.
I wanted to explore what life would look like, not so dissimilar from our own or where it’s going, where ‘the powers that be’ decide that creativity and self-expression were too dangerous to allow. Our uniqueness is a gift but it also can be a cause of conflict and this is the basis of the world. If war and our changing environmental status became so debilitating things got out of control and removing conflict was the only way to bring back that control.
That dichotomy is central to the book. There are two worlds explored, one with people who live in complete control and the other where there is no control at all. I wanted to create this world to see how people would react. Could they survive?
To express oneself is to present ourselves to the world in a way that says this is who I am is essential, and unavoidable, and it was such a pleasure finding ways people do this and planting them in the book. I can’t wait to see who can uncover people’s ‘silent protests’ as they read.
The world in SELF/LESS isn’t so unfamiliar. I wanted to situate readers in a position to instantly recognise the setting but sense something was off, that art, music, religion, sexuality and even something like design is viewed as too dangerous to be allowed- to even be talked about. Creating a neofascist regime ruling a world that had forgotten about its history was easy…. Maybe too easy? I think this book, although a work of fiction, is also a cautionary tale, showing what can happen when people don’t listen to themselves, or to each other.
I firmly believe humans need to express themselves just like they need to eat and sleep. Whether it’s searching for a higher being, a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd, or simply a way to get the feeling inside, out through some creative means. That is what it is to be human; to express.
A life without it? Well, that would be kind of… SELF/LESS
self/less is published 28th September 2021
You can listen to the sounds of the Metropolis by using the QR code on the book or finding AVIVA online AVIVA author/musician